A Fish Rots From The Head

Editorial


A Fish Rots From The Head

Corruption is nonpartisan. In these deeply divided days, it seems to be one of the few things that are.

Last week, a Fayetteville jury convicted former state Sen. Jon Woods, a Republican, of fraud, and Henry Wilkins IV, a former Arkansas legislator and county judge and a Democrat, pleaded guilty to accepting bribes.

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Woods and Wilkins were both ensnared in an investigation into public corruption in Arkansas, among other states. Overlapping investigations in Arkansas and Missouri involving the distribution of state General Improvement Fund grants have resulted in guilty pleas from three former legislators in addition to Wilkins: former state Rep. Micah Neal of Springdale (Republican), former state Rep. Eddie Cooper of Melbourne (Democrat) and former state Sen. Jake Files of Fort Smith (Republican). See what we mean about nonpartisan?

In her Editor’s Note this week, Gwen Moritz reports a fascinating finding from the 10th biennial study on occupational fraud and abuse conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners: “the median loss at companies with codes of conduct was less than half that at companies with no code of conduct.” Expectations matter, even among fraudsters.

There was a time when we were somewhat cynical about leadership. We thought talk about leadership was corny, that people were going to do what they were going to do whether or not someone in a position of authority sought to model and encourage good behavior. We don’t think that way anymore. Leadership, like expectations, matters. It matters greatly.

The Arkansas primary election this year is May 22. Early voting begins today. Our advice to voters: Expect better. No, demand it.